Tight Clothing to Avoid During Menopause
There are numerous symptoms associated with menopause. Some, such as hot flashes and night sweats, are well known. But others do not get nearly as much attention—such as pain in or around the vulva.
But did you know that both hot flashes and vulvar pain have something else in common, and that is that they can be exacerbated by wearing tight clothing?
For this reason, you should consider wearing looser fitting clothing.
Hot Flashes and Tight Clothing
Hot flashes are characterized by a sudden sensation of heat which sweeps through your core and up into your face. During a hot flash, you may become flushed and may also sweat excessively.
No one is entirely sure why hot flashes happen, but it is thought that they involve circulatory changes. The blood vessels which are located near the surface of your skin may dilate, which results in sweating, flushing, and heat. You might also experience chills or a fast heartbeat.
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For some women, hot flashes are a fleeting inconvenience. But for others, they may continue for many years. Indeed, for some unfortunate ladies, hot flashes never stop completely.
While scientists are unclear as to the cause of hot flashes, they do know that hot flashes can be spurred by certain triggers in your body or the environment. These are actually quite similar to acid reflux triggers, and may include the following:
- Spicy foods
- Hot weather
- Smoking or second-hand smoke
- Tight clothing
So if by chance you have any experience with heartburn and acid reflux, you already have a pretty good estimation of what you need to do if you want to avoid triggering hot flashes. You need to consume less alcohol and caffeine, try not to spend a lot of time in the heat, stay away from smoke, avoid eating spicy foods, try to reduce your stress, and avoid wearing tight clothing.
Vulvar Pain and Tight Clothing
Vulvar pain doesn’t get as much notice as hot flashes when it comes to discussions of menopause symptoms, but if you suffer from it, you know how stressful and unpleasant it can be.
Vulvar pain may be related to vaginal atrophy, but it may also be linked to a condition called “vulvodynia.”
Vulvodynia is a somewhat mysterious condition. If you have it, you experience burning, rawness, stinging, or itching in the vulva.
Sometimes the pain pervades the entire vulva, while other times it may be more localized. For some women, it exists at a constant level, while for others, it may come and go.
Vulvodynia is considered a symptom rather than a disease—and moreover, it is one with no known cause. Nonetheless, it is believed to affect around 8% of women, including postmenopausal women.
If you have vaginal pain or itching, you should get it checked out to rule out cancer, skin conditions, infections or atrophy. Some of these are serious while others are not. Thankfully, cancer is unlikely; itching and irritation around the vulva usually has another less serious cause.
Vaginal atrophy is a likely culprit; it is incredibly common during menopause, and is the direct result of a decline in your estrogen levels. While vaginal atrophy produces unpleasant symptoms, it is not dangerous.
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If no underlying cause for your vaginal pain or itching can be found, you may be diagnosed with vulvodynia. There are a number of treatments you can use to manage the condition:
- Avoid using products which might irritate the vulva.
- Medications may be prescribed to manage pain and discomfort.
- Avoid sitting in painful positions.
- Avoid wearing tight clothing.
So now you know a second reason why you should stick with looser clothing during menopause.
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Yeast Infections and Urinary Tract Disorders
Believe it or not, there is yet another possible reason you might be experiencing vulvar pain, which yet again may be exacerbated by wearing tight clothing (menopause sure is a lot of fun, isn’t it?).
It turns out that the urogenital changes you experience during perimenopause or menopause can also result in additional problems.
Once you have started to experience vaginal atrophy, you will have thinner tissue which is less elastic and more susceptible to irritation and infections. So that means you may experience more yeast infections, urinary tract infections, vaginitis, and so on.
Some women may make it through the whole of menopause without encountering a single vaginal infection or inflammatory problem.
But others may find they develop these issues at the drop of a hat. In some cases, they may be so mild as to cause little inconvenience. But in other cases, they can be quite severe.
If you want to prevent vaginal infections, take the following steps:
- Clean your vulva every day in the shower thoroughly.
- Do not use irritating soaps, and avoid products like tampons, pads, douches, and sprays which might disrupt the pH or your vagina or dry out your skin.
- Try and wear natural fabrics. Cotton is a good choice. Stay away from any fabrics which do not allow air to circulate (i.e. spandex).
- Try not to layer too much on your lower body.
- Do not wear tight clothing.
- Take off your underwear when you are sleeping.
Tight Clothing Items to Steer Clear Of
So now you know that avoiding wearing tight clothing during menopause can help you to prevent or lessen the severity of all of the following health conditions:
- Hot flashes
- Yeast infections and other infections that may affect the vulva or vagina
- Urinary tract infections
Just one of those reasons should be enough to convince you. If you have multiple issues from that list, then you could benefit in more way than one from switching over to looser attire.
So what are some of the clothing items you need to avoid?
- Restrictive underwear made from non-breathable fabric. Also avoid underwear that has tight elastic around the edges. This reduces breathability and it can also cause chafing. Chafing can worsen infections and inflammation.
- Do not wear underwear designed for compression to flatten your tummy. Also do not wear corsets. Garments like these will be no fun at all during a hot flash.
- Most pantyhose or tights. The difference between the two depends on where you are from, but if you are in the USA, pantyhose are those sheer things you wear on your legs while tights are the ones made out of denser fabric. Both should be avoided, but tights are probably the worse of the two since they block off even more air.
- Jeans. Yes, this is a painful one, especially if you basically live in jeans as so many people do. But tight jeans do nothing to maintain breathability, and they also are made of material which can cause quite a bit of chafing.
- Any clothing at all which is overly “restricting.” Think about how you feel when you are having a hot flash. A hot flash can make you feel like clawing your way out of your own skin. The last thing you want is to be wearing any sort of tight-fitting clothes. That might even include a dress or skirt which is perfectly breathable but has an especially tight waistband.
What Can You Wear Instead?
Now that you know what not to wear, what should you wear to keep menopause symptoms at bay?
- Underwear made of natural fabrics without tight elastic. Again, cotton is a very safe choice. In some situations, it may be best to skip wearing underwear altogether.
- Stockings and/or more open tights. If you like wearing tights, you do not necessarily have to give them up entirely. You can shop for fishnet tights with a more open crotch for example; these allow for plenty of airflow, and their elastic tends to be less restrictive as well. The ones sold by No Nonsense are a good choice. They are not the most durable, but they are cheap, and they offer all the breathability you could need. You also can buy a garter belt and wear actual stockings as opposed to tights. This eliminates the problems associated with tights entirely.
- If you can’t give up your jeans, look for those which feature stretch denim. These should at least feel less restrictive, even if they are not all that breathable. Go with softer denim fabrics which chafe less. You also can start wearing sweatpants as an alternative, or wear more dresses or skirts.
- For dresses, skirts, and pants of all varieties, try and avoid super tight waistlines. Elastic is almost always going to feel uncomfortable during a hot flash.
So you can see that there are ways you can modify your wardrobe without entirely giving up the clothes you enjoy. You just need to make some adjustments so you can increase airflow and decrease compression and chafing.
Other Treatment Ideas
While adjusting your wardrobe is one way you can counteract hot flashes, infections, and other symptoms of menopause, it is not your only option. There are a number of other remedies available. For example, you can invest in cooling products to deal with the hot flashes. You can view other ideas for treating hot flashes here.
One more great idea is to start taking an herbal supplement designed to support your overall health during menopause. That way you can bring some balance back to your body and treat some of your symptoms naturally and safely.
You will probably notice improvements within the first few weeks, and after a few months go by, you may notice significantly fewer hot flashes. You may also experience less vulvar pain, irritation and discomfort.
Dealing with the symptoms of menopause is never easy, but there is a lot you can do right now to get back to functioning at your best. So give these ideas a try, and get back to feeling like yourself!